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North Laurel Lady Jaguars win schools first WYMT Food City Mountain Classic trophy, keeping title in the 13th Region for the fifth straight year

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 7:25 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2021 at 11:57 AM EST
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HAZARD, Ky (WYMT) - They say some of the best things are worth the wait and Monday’s WYMT Food City Mountain Basketball Classic presented by your local Kentucky Farm Bureau agents and sponsored by ARH Girls’ Championship game fell under that category, despite the game being one of two weather days during the week.

The matchup on Monday featured two Lady Jaguars, but it was North Laurel that came out on top over Floyd Central 78-54.

“You can not make up the experience you have in this game right here,” said North Laurel Head Coach Eddie Mahan. “You are going against the top teams in the mountains in a win or go home mentality and the tournament means so much!”

North Laurel remained the top ranked team in Monday’s latest Alice Lloyd College Mountain Top 10 with Floyd Central staying in third.

Monday’s loss for the Lady Jaguars of Floyd Central resulted in the teams first of the season.

“It sucks to lose. It sucks. Period,” said Katie Moore, who was named to the All-Tournament team. " Teams like North Laurel are really going to prepare us for the big teams at the end of the season.”

The Lady Jaguars of North Laurel are now 12-2, with those loses coming against the second ranked team in that ranking, Southwestern and Sacred Heart, a Top 5 team in the state.

“I think our team has shown we have that resilience and we have that championship mentality,” said Emily Sizemore, who led all scorers with 26 and joined Bella Sizemore and Chloe McKnight on the All-Tournament team. “We are clicked as a team and I wouldn’t want to be on any other team in the mountains or the state.

Floyd Central kept the game close and looked to take momentum into the half as the team struck within three, 23-20 off Sophomore Kennedy Harvel throwing a pass behind her head, keeping the ball in bounce.

“I will just say that is a hustle play,” said Harvel, who lead her Lady Jags with 20 points and picked up All-Tournament Honors. “Coach says if the ball is going to go out of bounce and you can save it, save it. That’s what I did. I just threw it behind me and my teammate was there to lay it in.”

That is the identity that Justin Triplett and Floyd Central has built over the years. It is only fitting that style of play earned two others tournament awards. Kamryn Shannon was earned the Sportsmanship Award while Grace Martin was named the 6th Man Award.

“We always love coming here,” said Shannon. “Of course the competition is always really good and it is good to play teams away from home.

“It is a great experience win or lose. You are going to grow from your experience,” said Martin.

Floyd Central’s leading scorer from Friday, Jada Johnson joined Harvel and Moore on the All-tournament team.

“It is a great opportunity,” said Johnson. “There are a lot of talented teams and I am proud of my team.”

North Laurel maintained the advantage going on a 7-0 run and taking a 34-23 lead into the halftime break.

In the second half, Floyd Central tried to remain close but North provide to be too much down the stretch keeping the title in the 13th Region for the fifth straight year. The only time the 13th Region hasn’t won the WYMT Food City Girls’ Mountain Basketball Classic was when Knott Central won in 2016.

North Laurel won the turnover battle too, 21-10. Tournament MVP, Hailee Valentine had 10 of those to go along with 25 points Monday.

“I don’t think that means as much as just bringing home the trophy,” said Valentine. “Brooke Nichelson. Let’s get her name out there. She set me up. She is incredible, she is athletic. I told her ‘Brooke that is you. My name might be up there but that is you.’”

Nichelson, an 8th grader, earned the Tony Turner 110% Award.

North Laurel takes home the girls championship at the 34th annual WYMT Food City Mountain...
North Laurel takes home the girls championship at the 34th annual WYMT Food City Mountain Basketball Classic.(Willie Hope)

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